tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC August 19, 2009 12:00am-1:00am EDT
semiautomatic rifle. no permits required, no arrests made. you can believe these people are merely practicing their constitutional right to bear arms, but why are they doing it at presidential events? this country has a bad history of guns and presidential events starting in 1865 and running through garfield, mckinley, teddy roosevelt, who was shot at, fdr who was shot at. harry truman who was shot at. jfk. gerald ford who was shot at twice and ronald reagan was shot. let's get at it tonight. why are people bringing guns to presidential events? and let's have a discussion about robert novak, the conservative columnist and provocateur. he knew how to shake things up. he died today. let's talk to pat buchanan and eleanor clift about him. they were two people who were with him, bob novak, when he hit television in the first place back on the great -- it's still on the air, "mclaughlin group." we begin with that new nbc poll that explains the heat over health care. it really does. nbc news chuck todd is our
political director, of course, at nbc news, and also the chief white house correspondent for nbc news. by the way, twinkle toes couldn't make it tonight. tom delay is working hard to get ready for "dancing with the stars." he took time out to begin his rehearsal. he'll be on tomorrow night. by the way, twinkle toes is his name. it's no longer the hammer. sorry, that's your job description. president obama's job approval -- thank you, chuck. we got a chuckle. >> had to give it to you. >> health care, 41%, the same as it was a month ago. 41% for it. 47% against it. no change there. also look at this. if you think the republicans are gaining in this mishmash, look again. 62% don't like what the republicans are doing on health care, down 21%. three to one they don't like what the republicans are talking about. this is interesting, chuck. chuckaroo, how can it be people are so mad, at least half the country seems to be, about health care, yet at the same time they're not giving the republicans anything. >> this is our third straight poll where we have seen erosion in president obama's numbers in
some form or another, whether overall job rating in this, in health care, in the various things we saw, the economy -- >> who do they trust now? >> that's the thing. we have not ever yet seen a bounce up for the republicans. it is still -- look, we always say the country has a.d.d. and doesn't seem to remember what happened five minutes ago. they still remember that they fired the republicans for the last two elections, and so -- >> they're invested in that retirement. >> that's right. they haven't yet -- there's nothing to believe there. there is room here. if obama fails, if obama and the democrats fail, you know, the big warning to both political parties is if there's a short-term -- if it happens soon, there's going -- something is going to pop up somewhere else because they're not going to bounce for the republicans. they'll either not show up to the next election -- the angry voter will either not show up or some other third entity is going to tap into something. >> really? >> it's just -- that is what you see. if there is -- if it is seen as gridlock failure here with the democrats, the republicans haven't built up that trust. there will be some bounce-back
-- >> could it be these gun-toting, right-wing movement people out there who are far beyond either political party? >> the republicans would say this. they would argue we haven't had to do anything to be for anything yet. we're sitting here only running against something. >> let's take a look at this number, too, another set of numbers in the new nbc poll. a majority of the country is concerned health care reform will go too far instead of not doing enough. now you see the growing concern, do no harm, going too far 54%. only 41% say it's not doing enough. >> two most important groups i would argue in this are seniors who, by the way, the lowest demographic group of approving of president obama's performance. all the age groups narrowly approve of the president, seniors, it's the lowest number. that's not good for any democratic president. but it's -- >> but they already have health care. >> well -- >> isn't that why they don't want any change? >> they're fearful of the change. that's one group. the second group -- >> but they have it now. they have government-run health care. it's called medicare. >> that's right. but i'm saying they have lost the message with seniors. the second group that's important in that number we just
showed is people with private insurance. and that's 60% of the country has private insurance. and they are very concerned about seeing change because right now at the end of the day they like what they have. >> getting to your point here, a majority of the country opposes the idea of public health care, what's called public option. it's very narrow. in all fairness, it's within the margin of error. 43% favor, 47% disfavor or oppose it. >> interesting thing because there are some groups trying to criticize us for how we're wording questions. if you add the word "choice," it can bias a poll question. so for the last two months, we took out the word choice and said competitor, that public -- public insurance companies -- the government option would compete against private insurance companies, and that's where you get a more narrow -- >> but guess what? the liberals are not mad at us for not putting the word "choice." >> they want the word choice. everybody will be angry about something. most important number in that demographic, we have a blue dog demographic subsample here which are white democrats who do not
identify -- call themselves liberal. they call themselves moderate or even conservative. they approve of the public option in much lower numbers than democrats overall. it's no wonder the president is putting that on the negotiating block. >> let's take a look at the stories that are making people angry. right now the country split on the town hall protests. 43% say they do harm, 42% say the opposite. let's leave that. take a look at what's really driving the country -- >> by the way, this is total polarization. 64% of democrats -- >> you're on the right, you like it. this is what i really want to get to. this is the reason why people are carrying guns, why they're getting so heated. these are the reasons i think. let's take a look at what the country thinks of the criticisms voiced at town hall meetings about health care reform. 55% think it's more likely that the illegal immigrants will get health insurance. i have been checking around the hill. people say this bill that comes out of the congress will not pay for health insurance for illegal immigrants. period. >> judged by fact-checkers, proven through and through.
55%. >> so they're wrong. >> they're wrong, but this is what they're hearing and this is what they're -- >> it's a scare term and it's not right. second one, let's -- the government takeover. it will lead to a government takeover. well, now, without even a public option being probable, the odds of this turning into a government takeover are almost zero. >> one could argue that's a debatable point. this is depending where you sit ideologically. there are conservatives that will say medicare is already the start of the eventual takeover of government. so in fairness on that point, this is a debatable ideological view. but obviously -- >> that's just a general trend towards more government involvement in our social issues. >> correct. >> fair enough. less take a look at this one. pay for abortions. 50%. half the country say it's likely the taxpayer -- checking on the hill, they say the hyde amendment is still in effect. no federal dollars for abortion. >> right. now, what some conservative groups argue is that because you will subsidize -- because the federal government will subsidize lower-income folks to buy private insurance, that will cover abortion. that you go from "a" to "b" to "c" to "d" and eventually that's proof that taxpayer money eventually will pay for
abortion. look. it depends on your point of view on that issue. if you believe taking that entire "a" to "b" to "c" to "d" route -- >> that's a fair leap. if you subsidize -- >> to some people that's a fair leap. >> and that insurance covers abortion. you're saying these plans will do that. >> no, i'm saying -- that is the argument, that it will do that. >> will these plans cover abortion? >> not a single fact checker has been able to prove that. because the hyde amendment is the law of the land. >> we'll see how the courts rule on that one. how about death panels? 45% said there's going to be death panels. >> no, we worded it -- we did not use the word "death panel." i think death panel is a charged term at this point. we said the government -- the way we worded it to voters, the government would make the ultimate decision when to stop giving medical care to the elderly. so we did not use a charged political term. 45% believe this. and for what it's worth, seniors actually believed it less than the overall public. there has been this idea that
somehow this is a scare tactic with seniors. >> they believe government will pull the plug. >> no, they don't. a majority of seniors -- >> 45% do. >> 45%. >> that's a lot. >> it is a lot. >> you figure they're not going to be for it. >> it's a lot of people. you could argue -- we have one other question in here. that tells you. you make all these points on the myths and you have 50% on three of the four. 45%, a near majority on the fourth. when you actually give them the president's plan, a majority approve of it. when you lay it out. >> 53%, 43%. >> what does that tell you? it means he's not getting his message across because the opposition is getting it. >> let me ask you -- let's get off the public opinion to politics. you're very good at it. >> yes, sir. >> i am sort of a political moderate meaning i'd like to see progress made in this country but i want to see our society hold together. that's what kind of a person i am. i want this society to stick together. i want america to work, all right? that's my basic notion. if you don't get 60 votes in the senate and you don't get 218 votes in the house, all this is blather. >> right. >> so why do people hold the positions that won't get 60 in
the senate and won't get 218 in the house? >> i'll tell you this -- >> why would anybody take -- and still say -- >> the public option. they will fight over -- >> and still say it's health care reform. >> i'll tell you where the white house's head is. they're frustrated because they believe actually the left -- the people most up in arms on the public option don't understand what they're even for when it comes to public -- when you ask some groups on the left what's the public option, they each give you a different definition. so the white house is trying to preach patience and saying, hey, hold on a minute. maybe the co-ops is going to be able to do what you want it to do on the public option. but you need to be patient here. you need to understand that this stuff isn't politically popular, and in fact, it's not even politically popular with some democrats, as i pointed out. the blue dog democrats -- >> we have anthony wiener coming here to make the case. >> anthony wiener's constituents, i can tell you, we can look -- anthony wiener's constituents want what anthony wiener wants, single payer health care. >> i know.
because he represents the district in brooklyn, a liberal district. >> most people don't want that. that's a political fact of life. >> yes. i agree. thank you very much, chuck todd. thank you, sir. coming up, backlash from the liberal side of things. indications that the president may be backing away from the public option and liberals don't like it. let's see what's workable here. people think that honda is always the most fuel efficient choice. well, this chevy cobalt xfe has better highway mileage than a comparable honda civic. this chevy traverse has better mileage than honda pilot. the all-new chevy equinox has better mileage than honda cr-v. and chevy malibu has better mileage than accord. however, honda does make something that we just can't compete with. it's self-propelled. there's never been more reasons to look at chevy. the sparkly flakes. the honey-baked bunches!
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the public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform. this is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it. >> welcome back to "hardball." that was president obama on saturday just a few days ago talking about the public option. well, is it dead? meaning will there be a government option, a government
alternative to private insurance for some people in this country? democratic congressman anthony wiener is from new york. he's been around for a while, and he's a powerful member of the house powerful energy and commerce committee. sir, i watched you on the "today" show -- no, i think it was "morning joe" this morning. you were good. >> thank you. >> let me ask you this question. you are for single payer. >> i am. >> you believe the government should run medicare for everybody. >> not run, but we should pay for it. still, doctors should run their own shops, hospitals should run their own -- >> but the government -- >> but we shouldn't give money to insurance companies to pay for it. we should let a program like medicare reimburse doctors and hospitals. right. >> you were tough with joe scarborough saying what do insurance companies actually do? was that a rhetorical device or do you wonder what they do? to make a living? >> what the value added that they bring. what it is they're adding to the transaction. >> steven spielberg makes movies. what do insurance companies make? what is their product? -- for people not to have broken arms?
>> in a commodity sense of the word like automobiles, for example, you can choose what car you drive, where you drive it. >> right. >> they apportion risk. that's not happening in the insurance industry in the health insurance. you're not shopping around when you need an operation. you don't have the ability to say i'm going to not get asthma, if you're born with asthma. it's not a commodity. so the insurance model doesn't work in the traditional sense like a car or house. >> why do you -- you know this country all across the country even though you're from the east coast. i'm from the east coast. why do you think the people in the heartland are suspicious of a government-run health care financing plan rather than something that has a brand name on it? they seem more comfortable with a corporate brand name. >> because they have been successfully -- people have confused the notion of liking your doctor or hospital and liking your insurance company. i don't think people, despite what the president says, actually like their insurance company. they like their doctor and are concerned that relationship is going to get broken. if you sit in a town hall meeting, as i have, i did a brunch of them, you have senior citizens nodding in agreement when you say medicare works. >> of course, it's a great deal. >> you have younger people saying they don't get it. try this test out.
take someone who is 50 years old or 55 and say you're going to get medicare next year. they're going to be very happy. >> i agree with you. >> people who understand medicare are not as suspicious, and that's 40% of the american people. >> you're a politician. you deal with constituents all the time. i remember working on the hill you get a lot of case work you have to deal with, people with particular problems with the government. they don't get a disability claim they want to get. you know. you've been through them all. social security. why is it some people in the political middle are less fearful of some corporate person, middle level person, like in "sicko" the movie, michael moore, saying no to you on a claim, but they're more worried about a government official saying no. they can't get the transplant or can't get the mri. >> it depends what lens of your experience you're looking through. we deal with hundreds and hundreds of cases where we have people with problems with their health insurance. very rarely do we have people with problems with medicare. so, you know -- people pay into their health insurance and they're concerned they're going to lose their coverage. that's an unfounded fear. people who know someone in their
family that has medicare buy the wiener argument we should make this simpler and extend medicare to more and more people. >> if they can afford it. >> well, look. health care -- >> you admitted we have a financing problem with medicare. >> 100%. >> how can we give the whole country medicare -- it will really -- >> hold on a second. the financing problem with medicare is there's less growth in medicare spending than in the private insurance side. and fewer people are losing their health insurance on medicare, meaning nobody. hold on. the taxpayer is getting hit anyway. this is the thing i think the president has done a bad job with. the uninsured, i care about them as an academic matter, but i really care about them because my constituents are paying for their health care through hospital emergency rooms. if the president would get up and say, you know, what you don't like paying that bill either, i don't either, we want to make sure -- >> i like that argument. we're paying for it anyway. a person has a right to go to an e.r., a hospital has a requirement to take care of people that are coming in. if we're already paying for this health care, then why does it cost an extra $1 trillion to do it officially? >> it doesn't cost an extra trillion.
>> that's the issue, the budget. >> no, no, people are looking at it all wrong. i pay $3 billion extra taxes in new york city because new york city residents are getting stuck with this. now we're saying, let's do this smart and do it with the federal government or a co-op or do it with something else. we are the overall -- if the overcall cost doesn't go down, we fail. that is why -- >> you think you're giving relief to the localities. >> we are going to wind up -- we pay $2.5 trillion for health care. if we don't pay $2 trillion in five years from now, this whole process is a failure. >> it's a week before halloween. you have a vote on the floor, vote on a bill. it's coming out of conference. it doesn't have the public option. will you vote for it? >> i don't know. probably not because if it doesn't -- >> suppose your vote counts. suppose your vote is decisive. >> the math is meaningful to me. if, indeed, it turns out it doesn't save us any money, it keeps this cost going up and up, my citizens are not going to get any relief, the answer is no, and i think frankly a co-op plan won't do it. >> suppose it's got four elements in it. individual mandate, everybody's got to join.
subsidies for people that are working people. encouragement to businesses to insure people. it's got something to do with with reform in terms of pre-existing conditions and portability. will you vote for it? >> and no cost containment so the costs keep going up and it bankrupts our government, i can't vote for that. >> is there any way to get a bill past the congress except with 60 votes in the senate and 218 in the house? >> i think we can do it with 51 in the senate under reconciliation. >> but you would be willing to blow up the senate rules -- >> blow up the senate rules -- look, there's a reason there's a democratic house, democratic senate, democratic presidency. that middle block of americans want us to get this done. >> what do you think the republican reaction would be if you ignored the rules and pushed through a bill -- >> honestly, waiting for republican senators to be pleased with the process is something i'm not prepared to wait for. >> when the war begins -- we've been through wars in this country. it's easy to start. tough to end them. how do you stop a war that starts in the united states senate because you jammed through a bill with less than 60 votes. >> what do you mean jam, started
a war? what are you -- >> what are the republicans going to do? >> outside of this town the american people really don't care about -- >> will the government still function if you try to jam this through with 51 votes? >> i think it will. >> you think the republicans will put up with it? >> i think people will be upset. if it works, then everyone's going to -- >> i know people aren't -- >> i'm saying structurally. >> so you basically believe the republicans will take it on the chin. >> there was a lot of hot language around the medicare reform. look, whether or not -- you know, i understand the idea -- the cooling saucer of democracy, i get it. >> you're trying -- >> i do not buy -- i don't buy the idea that we have to build this reform on the foundation of enzi and grassley. that's not -- >> and snowe. >> and snowe. that is not getting us anywhere. you know, i -- the problem with what is going on at the white house right now is they're negotiating against themselves. they're not going to get the votes of these guys. >> so you basically disagree with the president. his strategy seems to be try to get some republican support. ted kennedy probably can't make
the vote. you will need 60. that's their strategy. you don't like it. >> i don't believe it will be successful. i don't believe -- >> they won't get to 60. >> i believe they're not going to get to 60 with anything worth really all that much. and it's certainly not going to be what he's been going out and articulating we've all been fighting for which is control costs -- >> have you talked to rahm emanuel about this? >> i don't think -- >> i think he disagrees with you. i think he believes something is better than nothing and you disagree with that. >> in the abstract i generally would go for the something. but remember, cost containment is such an important part of it. we're bankrupting ourselves. we're bankrupting ourself. >> you believe public option is the key to cost containment. >> i think single payer is the way you do it. i don't think public option gets you all the way there but at least gets you started. >> but it's essential. >> i don't believe that co-ops do it. >> you believe it's essential. >> i believe there's nothing else in the bill -- >> do you see an armageddon struggle over this in the fall? i mean, a real struggle. >> armageddon struggle? >> meaning the liberals will say no way. here's what i think happens. i think the president realizes at some point here a switch goes off, and they say, you know
what? why don't we push for what we actually think is going to be the best possible policy and try to sell it to the middle that elected us. >> let me ask you two liberal questions. should health care reform, the new bill, should it cover abortion? >> i believe -- >> should it cover abortion? as part of this plan? >> i'm uncomfortable with the idea that someone who is less well to do should have less option on any health care option -- >> this covers like four times the poverty level. >> this is a weird one. i heard your discussion with chuck. what goes on is kind of preserves the status quo which is weird which is the health plan can offer it if they want. so long as they figure out a way not to have federal dollars come in. my fundamental view is that we should not treat health care that someone who is well-to-do has more options than someone who has less. >> so you don't like the hyde amendment. >> i don't. >> should it cover illegal immigrants? >> no. >> should it? i mean under your goals -- >> you know, the problem -- under my goals, they're getting paid for now. >> so you'd support covering them? >> no, i think the whole paradigm has to be, we should cover people that are getting hospital care in emergency rooms in a more efficient way. i want to fix the immigration laws, but none of the bills being contemplated are going to allow anyone to sign up. i ask you this question, someone
who is undocumented walks into the kings highway hospital on kings highway, they're going to get care. we're going to wind up paying for it, so we might think we are doing something by saying don't cover them under the bill but we're really not. we're going to end up winding up paying for them anyway. >> you're an honest man, and it's good to hear you. you're scaring the hell out of people on the right, but you don't have to represent them. we have to talk to everybody on this show. thank you for coming in during the recess. this is a working congressman, and it's august. anthony wiener, thank you. up next -- you were great on "joe" this morning. up next, tickling your funny bone. health care is getting beat up on the late night comedy. wait until you see jon stewart. the power of satire. wait until you hear it. stewart, well, he's something. wait until you see him. i'm racing cross country in this small sidecar,
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where the president now stands on health care. i mean it. it's done in satire, but it's got the whole story. the president said we need to have a government-run health care plan to compete with the private insurance companies. that's what he said. now he says we don't. here is jon stewart last night sending up this disconnect and how it's hurting the president. >> wait a second. what did you just say? >> the public option, whether we have it or we don't have it. >> no public option? we still get to kill old people though, right? mr. president, i can't tell if you're a jedi ten steps ahead of everything or if this whole health care thing is kicking your ass just a little bit. why is this so hard? why can't you guys just stay on message? remember the bush team, a little discipline, a little repetition. they sold us a war nobody wanted and nobody needed. >> the one choice we don't have is to do nothing. >> the one option we do not have is to do nothing.
>> doing nothing is no longer an option. >> must invade iraq. must invade iraq. salesmanship! those guys could sell ice cubes to eskimos. the democrats i don't even think could sell eskimos [ bleep ] they need. insulation. >> my only problem with that comparison by john stewart is i don't want to be governed by people who are willing to say anything to get their way. next up, face time, different times. bill and hillary clinton both met with president obama this afternoon but not at the same hour. she, the secretary of state, had her meeting with the president at 1:30. he, the former president and hero of pyongyang, had his meeting with the president at 4:00 this afternoon. don't you wish you could listen in, a, when the two boys got together, and, b, when hill and bill compared notes over the phone afterwards? how was it for you, dear? time for tonight's "big number." the aarp has gone out on a bit of a limb by backing efforts for
health care reform, so here is proof that no good deed goes unpunished. how many seniors have canceled their membership in aarp this summer specifically citing aarp's push for some sort of health care overhaul. 60,000 seniors have walked out on aarp this summer over reform. tonight's "big number." up next, why are protesters bringing loaded guns to rallies outside presidential events? they're bringing them to town meetings. there they are in the holsters. what's going to keep the guns holstered? that's my question. great looking skin... it's in the dna. [ female announcer ] new regenerist dna cream with spf 25 doesn't just correct. it helps protect your dna without a $200 department store price tag. olay regenerist.
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to disrupt this weekend's presidential elections. right now, five gunmen are reportedly holed up inside a bank in kabul, surrounded by security forces. but police there say this is not a taliban attack, rather an attempted robbery. on tuesday, rockets and mortars fell near the presidential palace and a suicide car bomber struck a nato convoy on the outskirts of town and all eight people were killed, including a nato soldier. the first hurricane of the atlantic season is now a major category 3 storm. hurricane bill is packing winds of up to 125 miles an hour. bill is expected to continue to strengthen as it curves north past bermuda. about a dozen people were slightly injured when a possible tornado hit a shopping mall in beaumont, texas. high winds flipped cars and damaged the roofs of several stores. now back to "hardball."
welcome back to "hardball." when obama -- president obama, gave his speech monday at a phoenix arena, about a dozen people carrying guns, including one man with a military-style semiautomatic rifle, were among the protesters outside. just last week when the president spoke in portsmouth, new hampshire, a man outside the event had a gun strapped to his leg, and in a separate incident in portsmouth, a man was arrested for having a loaded unlicensed gun in his car near the school where obama, the president, held the health care forum. ronald reagan's host of "the ron reagan show" on air america, and alan gottleib founded the second amendment foundation. mr. gottleib, why would a person bring a gun to a presidential event? >> i think the only legitimate reason to bring a gun would be self-defense, in which case it would be better to carry it concealed with a license to do so than open carrying it the way they were doing it. i think politically it's not an astute decision to make. while it's maybe legal, i think it doesn't help the pro-gun rights cause when you see people do that. >> what do you think is their
motivation? >> i really think, chris, their motivation is they know that president obama is very anti-gun rights and they're raising an in your face kind of thing saying, it's my right and i can do it. i don't think it sells well and i don't think it gets much converts to our cause. >> you really believe that. >> yeah. >> you're not just bs'ing me. you really believe this is about gun rights and his position on gun rights. even though we've had democratic presidents for years who take basically the same position he's taking on gun rights and nobody has shown up at events carrying guns ever. >> well, i don't think they've been quite -- there's no doubt obama's the most anti-gun rights president we've had in the history of the united states based on his past performance, his actions, his voting record, and statements he's made. >> i don't agree with you, but you're right, i think there's a more deep-seeded reason here. i think it has to do with people's real ideologies involved here. let me go to ron reagan. ron, it seems to me the problem we've had with presidents is people who have come to events with guns have used them. i'm going through a history here.
your dad, of course, suffered from that. 1860, 1865 rather, lincoln. 1880 we elected garfield. he was killed. 1900, mckinley. teddy roosevelt was shot at. i think he had a speech in his pocket that saved his life. fdr was shot at. the mayor of chicago was killed by that assassin attempt. harry truman was attacked by puerto rican nationalists. a secret service agent was killed defending him. at the blair house. gerald ford was shot at twice. jack kennedy was killed when he was shot. and your dad was almost killed. your thoughts on this subject. why do people bring guns to presidential events? >> i think it's much bigger than what alan is suggesting. i don't think it's about second amendment rights. i don't think it's about health care or any of the specific issues here. the future is coming, chris, and many people are scared of the future. this is one of those pivotal moments in our history when you can sense that something is happening, something is going to change, and many people get very frightened by that. some people can hire lobbyists to push back against that change. other people who don't have that capacity do things like carry guns around. alan is quite right, the only
real reason to carry a loaded handgun or assault-style rifle anywhere, hunting, target practice, or you intend to kill someone in self-defense. now, they're not going hunting. they're not going for target practice. so who is it they think they might have to kill? they're holding up signs talking about the tree of liberty needing to be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots. maybe that gives us a little hint there. >> what are the rules of engagement, mr. gottlieb, for the people who bring guns? in other words, under what circumstances would they use them? in one of these crowded events? >> first of all, take a look at what's legal and not and it changes -- >> under what circumstances would they use the guns? >> oh, well, it could -- >> in a public event like this with people crowding around a president at a school somewhere. under what circumstances at such an event, which is where they're bringing the gun, would they use it. >> this is an outside rally area with people protesting on all sides of an issue. sometimes they get violent. for self-protection you may want to protect yourself against somebody that wants to do some violence to you. >> you really -- are you talking -- i wish i had you under sodium
pentothal, sir. do you honestly believe that somebody brings these guns because they think somebody else in the crowd is going to kill them? >> chris, i'm saying that's the legitimate reason to do so. i'm not saying -- >> no, but is that the motive here? >> no, i don't think that was the motive here, and i said that up front. i think the people are making a political statement. i don't think it was the right place or time to do so. >> if they're making a political statement, the guns don't have to be loaded, alan. they can simply be empty on their back, but these are loaded handguns and assault-style rifles. there's no reason for that unless you're intending to use them. >> well, i can't say i disagree with you. i don't think it was an appropriate place to have those particular firearms. but let's be honest, all these people were there legally, lawfully. they did not threaten anybody. they were exercising a right that's legal in the state of arizona. >> you can have a legal right. that doesn't make it right. a legal right does not necessarily make it right. >> it may not make it smart, but it was definitely right. it was legal. that's why the police officers did not arrest anybody. they were all legal, and everybody was very well behaved. as a matter of fact. you might want to argue on the
opposite side it could be a polite society. >> until the shooting starts. yeah. >> but there was no shooting, was there, at any of these events. >> well, there could be. think about the wisdom of strapping an assault rifle, loaded assault rifle, to your back in the midst of a crowd you can't control. a little silly, isn't it? somebody could grab that gun and do god knows what with it. it's foolishness. >> i agree with you. i think it's foolishness. i wouldn't do that. at a rally like, that i might want to have my handgun that i am licensed to carry concealed, on my person and nobody would know it's there. it would be for my self-protection, but i wouldn't be flaunting it. it would be safer for me because the element of surprise would be on my side. >> let me ask you, sir. if you were at the book depository in dallas in 1963 and you happened to walk through one of the book depository rooms upstairs and you saw a man with a rifle, what would you do? >> well, in that particular case i would have had my handgun with me, and i don't think we'd have a dead president. i think we'd -- >> how would you have known that that person intended to use that rifle against the president? >> well, i think it would be
kind of foolish -- >> you say you have a right to carry these guns around with you -- >> chris, come on. if you see a guy pointing a rifle out the window -- >> pointing is a good point. i'm saying five seconds before the pointing. i'm saying just having the gun in proximity to a presidential event. you have no problem with that? >> there was no reason for that person to have a gun in a book depository sitting by a window. it's obvious he was there for no good. that's why people with firearms can help protect presidents as well. >> now you're really getting loony. let me ask you this -- >> no, i'm not. >> if you're a secret service agent and you're watching a crowd and you're watching the people with guns that are loaded, as ron points out, do you have to have a special agent in each case watching each guy with a gun because it seems like that person would require special attention. what do you think? >> well, chris, this person -- >> if you were a secret service agent -- >> he wasn't anywhere near where the president was. my guess is there were no secret service people there. it was only local police doing crowd control because it was nowhere near where the president was. let's be honest about it. >> let me ask you about this.
if you were a secret service agent and you saw someone on the perimeter of one of the presidential events, would you keep your eye on the guy with the gun? >> of course, i would. i mean, i'd be stupid not to. >> how many agents will we have to have then, for every guy carrying a gun we need an agent. >> no, you don't. and quite frankly, when you have it in public and everybody can see it, the odds are you aren't going to do anything. it's when you can't see it you maybe have to worry, right? i mean -- >> people with loaded weapons in proximity -- alan, speaking as somebody who has a little more experience than you do with the secret service if you have somebody with a loaded weapon at an event that the president is at or any other politician, you're going to have security personnel watching them. they're going to be watching them when they should be watching something else. >> wait, again you're right, but this wasn't an event where the president was at. he was not out on the street where the people were. >> let me tell you last week we had an event where now about a dozen people carrying guns showed up in phoenix with the president. a dozen people. that's a lot of people for secret service agents to keep an eye on. let's kill it right now. you say they brought the guns for symbol reasons, for display purposes only, right? they didn't really bring them
for self-protection. brought them for display. like burning the flag as a symbol. >> that's what it looked like. >> okay. number two, but you see no reason otherwise for bringing them. you don't really believe they brought them for self-protection then? >> no, i think they were making a political statement. i don't think it was the right venue to do it. >> thank you. >> political statement, they don't have to be loaded. that's the bottom line there. >> wait, wait -- >> this is about anger. >> you don't even know they were loaded. >> they were loaded. this is about anger, and anger and guns do not mix, and that's what we're seeing at these rallies. >> the fellow i had last week said you're stupid. he said he had a gun and it was loaded. me challenged me. he said you'd be stupid. never to carry a gun unless it was loaded. he made fun of me for asking the questions because he's a second amendment guy -- he knows you have to water a loaded gun. >> you're making an assumption they were all loaded for these people. you're making a statement we don't really have any facts to back up. >> well, if they weren't loaded, chris is right, there's no point in carrying it. then it's just a piece of metal that's worthless.
>> wait, hold on. then it's a political statement, isn't it? >> is it? is it a political statement or is it something else, alan? >> ron, you just said -- to make a statement you don't have to have it loaded. >> you know what -- >> that's true, but they did have it loaded, didn't they? at least one did have it loaded. >> second amendment is clear, gentlemen. the second amendment as interpreted by this supreme court is you have an individual right to bear arms. my question is this. you have a right to jump around on a pogo stick. you don't go to church on a pogo stick. there's a right place and a right time. we agree on that, all three of us. thank you, ron and alan. up next, remembering columnist, journalist and tv host robert novak who died today at the age of 78. we'll have some people -- there's on old picture and an early picture of bob novak. we will have a couple people like pat buchanan and eleanor clift who knew this guy when he got started. hi, may i help you? yes, i hear progressive has lots of discounts on car insurance. can i get in on that? are you a safe driver? yes. discount! do you own a home? yes. discount! are you going to buy online?
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welcome back to "hardball." journalist and conservative columnist robert novak died earlier today after a one-year fight with cancer. bob novak was a must-read columnist, that's the best you could say about anyone in this business. you want to read what they have to say and got to report. "the washington post" ran novak's column every day, even though he didn't exactly fit with that paper's high-toned sensibility. novak knew how to make trouble. he new the best fights were intermural. usually somebody in the republican party mad at somebody else in the republican party. somebody who wanted to give in and raise taxes usually. that was his special target, tax-raisers. he knew the gut element in journalism, the resentment people feel toward what he called the beautiful people. who nixon called those liberal pin-up boys. bob novak knew that gut of resentment because, let's be honest, he shared it. bob novak didn't follow fashion. he hated on his own terms, and he defended people with the same
bite. i think he defended some people like dan quayle simply because the liberal elite were attacking dan quayle. all that made him as a journalist and as a commentator irresistible. nbc political analyst pat buchanan and "newsweek's" owner eleanor clift join us. they both knew him well. i think i got a bit of them. eleanor, you first. the novak you introduced to television in the old days, apparently you had a hand in bringing us bob. >> well, we shared offices on the same floor at 1750 pennsylvania avenue, a block from the white house. and novak was instrumental in getting me on "the mcloughlin group." and we would drive out there friday afternoons in his lebaron convertible. he would have a chicago cubs cap on. i thought he was my buddy. and then he would arrive at the studio. the red light would go on and he would be lunging at me and saying, eleanor clift and people of her ilk.
don't even think i knew what ilk meant the first couple of times. he loved the battle but he was a reporter and as somebody who was a reporter, i really admired. he had sources everywhere. buried in every bureaucracy. and he married one of lyndon johnson's secretaries, for goodness sakes. so he had sources on the democratic side as well as the republican side. >> pat, i don't think i missed a single episode and you and those guys were in your prime. you're all about 30 years younger. you and bob, eleanor shamelner, whatever her latest nickname whatever. >> the young, tough irish/scott mix. you guys were quite a crowd. >> it was a phenomenal thing when it came out. it was balanced more to the right. one of the first shows like that there ever was. novak was the lead pony. we took a measure one time. of course, everybody is yelling, how many words you got? they did a word count.
i got 400, 500 words. bob had 500 and mcloughlin had 2,500 words. >> and still mad at novak for being close. >> but the point is if you wanted to settle a score with someone, drop the good stuff on novak. >> let me ask you about that. eleanor, it seems like his columns were brilliant to getting to the heart of politics, which was usually intermurals. the most visceral, the gut hatreds in my experience with politics is people within the same party not liking each other. he always seemed to know how to get to that fight in the republican party. >> right. what he was good at was getting at the scuffling in the wheel house, and the state department versus the national security. the intermural battles within the white house. it was dinner table gossip. i don't know how well it related around the country, frankly, but i think washington dined out on his columns. and liberals as well as conservatives would drop something into his column and it
was a great place to get an airing. but novak himself was so pleased that he was kept on at "the washington post" because he recognized that his era was passing, and he thought they could have let the old guy go, but it was fred hiatt, the editorial page editor who said you always learn something in the novak column. as you said in your setup, that's a very high standard in a very noisy journalistic way. >> he was a reporter to the end. >> he was a reporter/columnist. there was always news in the column. there was always the meeting that you didn't -- people didn't want you to know about. he had the information in the column as well as the opinion. >> let's get back to our regular fighting here with pat buchanan and eleanor clift. we carry on the fight. i want a left/right fight about this health care thing. i think you're against it and eleanor's for it. just guessing. we will be right back with more. fancy feast introduces an entirely new way to celebrate any moment. fancy feast appetizers.
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we're back with pat buchanan and eleanor clift. i think i'm somewhere on the center left on the issue of health care. eleanor, i want a system that makes health care accessible and reasonably affordable for people who don't have it now. really starts a government commitment, which we can fill out over time to get everybody insured, especially healthy young people. get them all aboard. what do you think is going to happen between now and the end of the year? are we going to get a bill or not? >> i think we're going to get a bill. i think if the democrats don't produce, i think the anger against them in the midterm elections next year will be
quite, quite strong. and they -- they would condemn obama's presidency to failure. if he doesn't get this after all he's invested, now, what he gets is -- is up for grabs at this point. i'm waiting for the barack obama who the country voted for to show up in this battle, and they view everything through the last campaign, and they are saying, oh, he's a great closer. there's still lots of fight left on this public option. and if you use the analogy i think we're in the reverend wright stage of the campaign right now for health care. but i think he can come back, and i think the public option is not -- is not dead yet. >> i think the public option's dead, but i do agree with eleanor. look, barack obama has to step in there himself and tell them, i can't get that through, you guys, and we can't get that. we can get this and this and this, some of the things you mentioned. now put this together. and i want it on my desk by october 15th.
this is what we got to go with. we all tried the big thing. we're sorry we didn't get single payer and all of that but we didn't get it. this is what we got to get. that's what i would do. he's got to engage. >> i think we're together. he needs a core bill. let me ask you this, eleanor, can he get the 60 votes to the senate? are you with anthony weiner, who was just telling us, you don't need 60. just jam it through with 51 or 50? >> i think there's -- the danger there is it gets so pockmarked and they can take out things that don't directly relate to budget. but i -- i think -- i think if he can't get to 60, he will go with the 51. they'll get something and they will call it a victory and republicans will say it's a failure and then they'll go home and sulk. >> because he ran it through with 51 votes. >> even insurance reform is significant. >> if they ram it through with 51 votes and try to do that, he will split his party in half, tear the party, sink the blue dogs and he may not even get it. >> i think he needs 60 and 218.
thank you, pat buchanan and eleanor clift on this sad night for friends of bob novak. join us tomorrow night for more "hardball." "countdown" with keith olbermann starts right now. which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? political gamesmanship or the majority getting played like a $3 banjo? >> the president, his position, the administration's position, is unchanged. the president prefers the public option. >> and how does he prefer to get it? pass a bill with the public option in the house? pass a bill without the public option in the senate? and then retain the public option during the conference process between the two chambers and screw the republicans? or continue to wait for the gadow of modern politics,
bipartisan. senator kyl said there's no way that republicans are going to support a trillion dollar-plus bill. why is the public accepting the lies? >> this thing essentially takes care from the elderly and gives it to the immigrants. >> neither is true. but 45% believe the lie about taking care from the elderly. 55% believe the other lie about giving it to immigrants. the new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll out tonight. we know who's lying but why are the lies being believed? and why does the right continue to get away with threats of violence by cretins like this one? >> i'm not the most civilized person. those kind of people, i usually take behind the woodshed and beat the living tar out of them. >> joe the bully is talking about beating up the speaker of the house of representatives. and another episode of sanford and wife. a south carolina's governor free pass depends on his wife's reconciliation with him. the person i married, she says, was centered on a core of morals.